Jim Buss heading Lakers may mean no Bynum trade

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Among the favorite pastime of some Lakers fans is a game called “Where can we trade Andrew Bynum?” Kobe Bryant has even played this game before. Bynum has been offered up in deals ranging from Dwight Howard to a rack of shootaround basketballs.

Those games may be over.

One thing the hiring of Mike Brown as coach has made clear is that the good ship Lakers is now captained by Jim Buss (son of longtime owner and poker legend Jerry Buss). And what was Jim’s big Lakers claim to fame? He was one of the early champions in the draft process of Andrew Bynum. He is a Jim Buss favorite.

Which leads to this note from Adrian Wojnarowski, of Yahoo.

Now, Jim Buss has two guys in the franchise: Brown and Andrew Bynum(notes). In fact, Buss has made something clear within the Lakers, sources say: Bynum is untouchable in trade talks.

For now, this could include a sign-and-deal for the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard. The Lakers are Howard’s preference, but they don’t have salary cap space to sign him. They’ll need a deal that includes Bynum to the Magic, but there are those seriously doubting Jim Buss’ desire to make such a trade. After all, Bynum was Jim Buss’ discovery, his pet project and believes Bynum will ultimately resonate as the son’s personal Lakers legacy. Buss’ loyalty will be Bynum and Brown. These are his guys now.

Two thoughts here. First, the Lakers should be hesitant to trade Bynum for just about anything. There just are not young, defensive presence centers like this out there and if you don’t think that matters a lot go watch a Dallas Mavericks game with Tyson Chandler. In an era where you can’t touch guys on the perimeter you have to have somebody who can defend the rim. Bynum does that.

Right now Orlando has no interest in a Dwight Howard for Bynum deal and until we all see a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this talk is all moot. That said, if a deal like this could be worked out, the Lakers would be foolish not to think about it.

One other little note on Jim Buss: What made Jerry a great owner is that he let his basketball people make the basketball decisions. He set parameters, he got in the very big things (signing Magic Johnson to an extension, forcing the Shaq trade) but for the most part he stayed out of the way. Jim would be wise to follow that counsel.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.